petite anglaise

December 13, 2004

Tadpole magic

Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:56 pm

Christmas has been a rather melancholy season for my family ever since a very dear relative was killed in a horrific, fog-induced pile-up on the M62 one December. It made the television news. Where horrible things are only supposed to happen to other people. Journalists telephoned our home, circling like vultures.

We didn’t celebrate Christmas that year, and while we all tried to put on a brave face in subsequent years, the ghost of that Christmas past inevitably haunts us.

Last year, however, was a real turning point: Christmas started to feel special again. It’s the advent of the Tadpole which has wrought this change: the first of my parents’ grandchildren and the apple of everyone’s eye. It is impossible not to smile in her presence.

Now that Tadpole is able to understand a little of what is going on, she is working her magic on me. Where once I felt only revulsion at the rampant commercialism of modern Christmas celebrations, now I feel my negative feelings slowly ebbing away, to be replaced by a growing excitement.

It started with a tree. Which I wasn’t even planning to buy. I thought if we bought a proper Christmas tree, one of the following was bound to occur. Worst case scenario, the whole edifice would get pulled over; at best, one of those little decoration hooks (which in our case are safety pins and ingeniously unbent paperclips) would get swallowed. I also know from previous experience that I will continue to find Christmas tree needles in the gaps between our ancient, warped floorboards until the following autumn, however thoroughly Mr Frog claims to have hoovered. So, as we will not actually be in Paris ourselves for Christmas or New Year, ‘we’ decided not to bother. ‘We’ meaning me. An executive decision, if you will.

That was before I saw the wonder in Tadpole’s eyes when the sapin went up in front of the 19th arrondissement‘s town hall and the simple cascading white lights on the front of the building were switched on. Bathed in the reflected glow of the lights she was transfixed, chanting ‘pretty ites’, ‘tree’ and ‘sdar’ over and over in an awed little voice. Suddenly I knew we had to have one. Immediately.

And so it came to pass that on Tuesday evening after work, Tadpole and I inspected every Christmas tree within a 1 km radius of our apartment. At the florist’s opposite: € 35 to € 55. Ditto at the next florist’s further along our street. I realised with a sinking feeling that this could turn out to be an expensive whim, given that we don’t possess a car, I can’t imagine Mr Frog bringing a tree back on his Vespa and we hadn’t got our act together in time to go to Ikea in a borrowed vehicle to buy one of those potted trees that you can return after Christmas in exchange for hard cash.

Luckily the DIY heaven that is Bricorama (all self-respecting French shops end in ‘rama’), where we habitually buy 20 screws when we only need one, came up with the goods. Their Christmas trees were so much cheaper that I got a bit carried away and dragged a 1m60 specimen over to the till. It occurred to me only after I had paid that I now had to get myself, a pushchair (weighing 10 kilos), a Tadpole (also weighing 10 kilos) and a tree as tall as myself back home. We must have looked a picture, Tadpole and I, pushing our Christmas tree along, comfortably enthroned in a Peg Perego buggy.

Imagine Mr Frog’s astonishment when he came home to a Christmas tree half the size of our living room (my lame excuse: ‘it didn’t look that big until the wrapper came off, honest’), some seriously re-arranged furniture and a rather odd top-heavy arrangement of decorations (out of Tadpole’s reach). He will never know the lengths I went to both to get the damn thing home, and into our tiny lift. Nor did he witness the blood, sweat and tears shed trying to find last year’s bag of decorations and ease it out of the back of a very high cupboard using a stepladder and a mop handle.

But it was all worth it.

So with a little help from Tadpole, I’m coming around to the idea of Christmas again. Next year I’ll be putting out a carrot for Rudolph and a drop of brandy for Father Christmas.

And now that I’m a grown up, I’ll be the one who gets to knock that back once Tadpole is safely tucked up in bed.


  1. I’m about to spend my first xmas with the family’s first grandchild. Merry Xmas :)

    Comment by Claire — December 14, 2004 @ 12:16 am

  2. 2nd Christmas with first grandchild – at 16 months he’s now old enough to appreciate it. we may or may not have the 2nd grandchild making an appearance – ‘the potential’ as i call it (my brother and his wife have not found out the sex) is due on the 30th Dec so, as babies are wont to do, it could be making an appearance anytime between now and mid-January …. hence 1 or maybe 2 grandchildren (nephew/it’s in my case) for Christmas. I wasn’t decorating this year either, as it’s been a crappy year all round and I wasn’t not in the mood – but for the first time christmas is at my place so I’m beginning to get a little inspired :smile: I’m the ‘portable’ one in the family – the unmarried, unchilded daughter/sister/auntie who can pack up and go at a moments notice to whereever … but this year I’m also the one at the midpoint to all the assorted extended family and friends … so it’s all me – luckily my four flatmates are all away this year! Bring on the hot weather so we can sit around the pool and get the traditional Australian Christmas sunburn!:oops:

    Comment by Miss Lisa — December 14, 2004 @ 12:49 am

  3. Don’t you think Santa would prefer a Champagne cocktail these days? :idea:

    Comment by Sam — December 14, 2004 @ 2:56 am

  4. Maybe today you find it hard to do and expensive, but on later years you will not repent.
    If not, ask my mother, I’m just leaving home for college….:cool:

    Comment by Jesus Vargas — December 14, 2004 @ 5:49 am

  5. I was always the kid in the house that dragged the plastic tree in the attic out on the 1st of December, and somehow manage to infect my angry arguing parents and non-communicative brother with some kind of Xmas spirit. As I am now married and approaching 30 faster than I’d like, I feel it slowly ebbing away from me, and nearly didn’t put up a tree this year. I guess perhaps it’s time to start the family and try and resurect the excitement!!

    Comment by Valkyrie — December 14, 2004 @ 8:52 am

  6. *petite goes off to see her bank manager with business plan for ‘rent a kid for Christmas’*

    Comment by petite — December 14, 2004 @ 9:21 am

  7. I have to say,imagining someone “avec un bebe dans les bras et un sapin dans la poussette” made me laugh for a while.
    How I would have loved to witness the scene and snap a few shots!

    Comment by Cecile — December 14, 2004 @ 6:19 pm

  8. Okay, that was just adorable. Thank you! :)

    Comment by Epiphany — December 15, 2004 @ 4:46 am

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